By Sharna Johnson: Freedom New Mexico
Yeah, he likes the turtle neck… and the cardigan too.
And the brighter the color, the bouncier his step.
Poor Gilligan, yes, I’m outing him.
I’d like to think he just appreciates the extra warmth, but it’s pretty obvious it’s not that simple.
And no, I don’t think it has anything to do with leaving his “treasures” at the vets office in Lubbock in October, but who knows.
I’ve alluded to the possibility that I might, maybe, could possibly have put a sweater on my dog last week during the Arctic blast we suffered, and now I admit, yes, I did.
Not just a sweater; more like three.
They were on sale — Oh come on, who can pass up $1.50 for vivacious orange and red or demure blue and gray, really… — and it was so cold out.
I rationalized it as a completely practical life-saving measure on my part, after all, it wasn’t his choice to be shaved a few months back.
I was trying to let him go au naturale, but he’s just too scrappy to carry the look and the Rasta locks had to go.
His sculpted metro-look was all fine and well for 50-degree days, but when the cold moved in, so did my sympathy.
I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t have spent more than $1.50 on a sweater because I fully expected it would start with a fight, and in the event I got it on him, I would find it later, muddy and trampled in a snow pile in the yard.
Reminiscent of the days when my kids were little and stubborn, I stretched the neck and had my hand through the opening, ready to grab his face, and push the sweater from my forearm, over his head and around his neck before he knew what hit him.
As it turned out, none of that was necessary.
The spinning, hopping, panting dervish of a dog stood quiet as a church mouse with his little chin jutting out almost proudly as I ceremoniously slipped it over his head and fed his front legs into the sleeves.
And for the rest of the week, I swear he strutted like he was working the catwalk, parading in front of the other dogs with his back straight and head high, even when one of the sweaters gave him a royal dog-wedgie that would have backed anyone else into a corner.
He even stood still for a couple happy-snappys, taken to document the occasion.
And the truly strange thing is he DID look good — not silly or overly doted upon, just rough and tumble, normal-dog good.
Now in my curiosity about this strange phenomenon, I tried one of the sweaters on Sadie, who also has a short coat and was the next most likely to suffer in the cold.
Always a good girl, she acquiesced and let me put it on her, but I really do think I saw her roll her eyes when she thought I wasn’t looking. And her first order of business once outside was to roll around and flop on the ground like some parasite was eating her whole.
It wasn’t long before she met me at the back door, the sweater hanging off one shoulder like some 80’s fashion nightmare.
Clearly she was not capable of taking care of a sweater, even if it did cost less than $2.
But my goofy boy, now he appreciated them.
Maybe the reason for their varied reactions is rooted in the difference between coming from a life of hardship on the streets as he did and living a more pampered life like she has.
Or it could be Gilligan just has flair and in her case, no self-respecting herding type pooch would ever be caught dead in a sweater, even if it did make her eyes stand out…
Regardless, I felt a shift between he and I after he got his sweaters, because ever since, he has leaned into me more when he sits beside me and he snuggles closer at night, as if to say “Gee mom, I knew you loved me…”
And you know what? I can accept my boy sporting the sweaters because I know underneath it, he’s still the same wonderful, crazy bundle of contradictions he always was.
And as the illustrious Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken,” or in other words, “You go Gilligan…”